The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to free up frequencies in the 2100MHz range by migrating to an alternative spectrum band, the Economic Times reports. The move will allow the government to auction the much-needed spectrum to operators, either opening up the segment to new players, or allowing existing 3G providers to expand the reach of their operations. 3G licensing has been a bone of contention between operators and regulators recently, following the April 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court forbidding 3G roaming with the caveat that cellcos could continue to serve existing customers outside of their licensed operating areas.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that no single operator was able to win pan-India spectrum for 3G in 2010, and augmented their limited footprints via roaming agreements with rival cellcos. However, in December 2011 the government performed a volte-face on 3G roaming and declared the practice illegal, despite having green-lit such measures. The dispute rattled through various courts before reaching the Supreme Court, with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) having failed to resolve the matter in July 2012, issuing a split decision verdict.